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Mike From Mesa

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  • Commune

  • Commune, Book 1
  • By: Joshua Gayou
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,349
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,176
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,166

For dinosaurs, it was a big rock. For humans: Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). When the Earth is hit by the greatest CME in recorded history (several times larger than the Carrington Event of 1859), the combined societies of the planet's most developed nations struggle to adapt to a life thrust back into the Dark Ages. In the United States, the military scrambles to speed the nation's recovery on multiple fronts including putting down riots, establishing relief camps, delivering medical aid, and bringing communication and travel back on line. Just as a real foothold is established in retaking the skies (utilizing existing commercial aircraft supplemented by military resources and ground control systems), a mysterious virus takes hold of the population, spreading globally over the very flight routes that the survivors fought so hard to rebuild.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I want to adopt the characters into my family

  • By yarginator on 11-27-17

A good book about life in the apocalypse

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

I have read a lot of books about possible apocalyptic events going all the way back to Philip Wylie and Edwin Balme's "When Worlds Collide", John Wyndham's "Day of the Triffids", Larry Niven's "Footfall" and Stephen King's "The Stand", but I mostly stopped buying them when they turned into Zombie books because I found most of those to be nothing but violence and killing with the only differences being how to kill the Zombies. There were some bright spots, like William R. Forstchen's "One Second After", but those were hard to find.

Given that I thought that this book was a welcome find. Here we have a world gone back to basics by the combined actions of a large Coronal Mass Ejection and a devastation plague, with only a few people left alive. As expected, the book deals with efforts to survive in a very hostile environment where normal interactions between people have become dangerous and the bounds of propriety have ceased to exist. What makes this book interesting are the characters involved and the way the tale is told, with four main characters who meet and form a family of sorts and try to survive in a world where all of the norms have disappeared. While there is violence, most of the story is basically the tales of the people, all of whom seem both reasonably drawn and normal. There are no Rambos here, no people with abnormal abilities and no situations that seem out of reason given the premise of the story. I found I cared about all of them, about what happened to them and what their futures might hold, and I plan to buy the sequel to see how the story continues to unfold.

If you are looking for Zombies, this is not your book. If you are looking for the tale of people trying to survive in a world irrevocably changed, where danger lurks everywhere and life hangs at a thread, you might want to give this book a try. It is the best book of this type that I have read since "One Second After" and, although different in many ways, is as good as that book was.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Darkest Hour

  • How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink
  • By: Anthony McCarten
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 497
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 434
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 431

May 1940. Britain is at war, Winston Churchill has unexpectedly been promoted to prime minister, and the horrors of Blitzkrieg witness one Western European democracy fall after another in rapid succession. Facing this horror, with pen in hand and typist-secretary at the ready, Churchill wonders what words could capture the public mood when the invasion of Britain seems mere hours away. It is this fascinating period that Anthony McCarten captures in this deeply researched and wonderfully written new book, The Darkest Hour.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping

  • By Jean on 12-06-17

The power of speech

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This book covers a short period of time from Churchill becoming Prime Minister to the end of the Dunkirk evaluation and centers on some of the great speeches Mr Churchill gave that convinced his fellow MPs that he was the right man for the job, that he meant to fight Germany with everything Britain had and that they had a chance of victory. The speeches involved contain some of the greatest quotes from Churchill and Mr McCarten looks at the speeches to see why they were so influential and how they saved Great Britain.

But the book is more than just a look at his speeches, how they were written and the effect they had. It is also a pocket history of the events so that the speeches are put into the proper perspective given the events of the time. There are some old recordings that Churchill made of these speeches after they were given (recording was not allowed in Parliament) and they were powerful enough to bring chills to me listening to them more than 75 years after they were originally given, and this book shows the power of a well delivered speech to motivate, encourage and inspire a people to do what is necessary. This book is a good addition to any collection of books about one of the most momentous periods in history when freedom literally balanced on the edge of a knife.

In my life I have probably read more than 100 books about this period of time, and while none of the information in this book is really new to me, given when I had already learned from previous books, this book is unique in that it concentrates on a critical period when it become possible for life to triumph over death, for freedom to conquer slavery and for the right to win against a dark and terrible force.

Recommended for anyone interested in the history of World War II.

  • The Eagle's Prey

  • Eagles of the Empire, Book 5
  • By: Simon Scarrow
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 13 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 111
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 102

It is late summer AD 44, and the battle-weary Roman legions are in their second year of campaigning against the British tribes. The troops' commander, General Plautius, is under pressure from the emperor to crush the natives once and for all. Centurions Macro and Cato are with the crack Second Legion under the precarious leadership of Centurion Maximus, and it's their task to hold a ford across the river Tamesis when the natives are forced into a trap.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Solid Book.

  • By Timothy on 09-09-17

Decimation

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

Macro and Cato are in trouble again, and this time it is very serious for Cato as his century has been selected for Decimation due to an order from a disgraced Centurian that led to a lost battle, and he and his men must find a way to elude the Legions looking for them and win their way back into the good graces of the army.

The story, as usual, is gripping and the descriptions seem as accurate as ever, but what makes these novels so interesting for me is that the characters involved seem full-fleshed and real, the situations they find themselves in seem reasonable, at least for those Roman times, and I find that I care about them as though they were real people. Mr Scarrow's writing is, as always, sharp, clean and gripping and the narration is as fine as ever. I know they will come through their troubles since there are other books following this one, but it always seems as though it is impossible and the tension comes at least as much as how they will do it as if they will do it.

Another wonderful book for those interested in the Roman Legions and the trial and tribulations of Macro and Cato.

  • Gone Tomorrow

  • A Jack Reacher Novel
  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 14 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,426
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,210
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,204

In a novel that slams through one hairpin surprise after another, Lee Child unleashes a thriller that spans three decades and gnaws at the heart of America...and for Jack Reacher, a man who trusts no one and likes it that way, it's a mystery with only one answer the kind that comes when you finally get face-to-face and look your worst enemy in the eye.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best work yet!

  • By chigars4 on 06-05-09

You need a strong stomach

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This was probably my least favorite Jack Reacher novel.

The story revolves around an attempt to retrieve some classified information and you really do not know who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are until about half way through the story. As usual Reacher is working on his own to try to find out what is really happening, but the story did not have the same satisfying feel for me that the other books had. First, some of Reacher's basic assumptions turn out to be completely wrong, second, I found the story line to be too much of a stretch for me and lastly, perhaps most importantly, I found myself literally unable to listen to parts of the story involving the description of a video and had to skip ahead. The Reacher books always involve some violence, but this is the first one I have read that was too graphic for me to be able to listen to.

Dick Hill's narration was as fine as ever and kept me listening even when I had given up on the story. I do recommend the book but without the strong recommendation I would give to most of the others. Personally I think Reacher is more in his element when working to uncover secrets in less urban areas where he is more on his own and not relying on the local police for whatever help they can provide, but that is probably just me.

  • English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable

  • By: Lacey Baldwin Smith
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 437
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 397
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 397

Here at last is a history of England that is designed to entertain as well as inform and that will delight the armchair traveler, the tourist, or just about anyone interested in history. No people have engendered quite so much acclaim or earned so much censure as the English: extolled as the Athenians of modern times, yet hammered for their self-satisfaction and hypocrisy. But their history has been a spectacular one.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thoroughly enjoyable history

  • By Dennis K. on 11-23-17

Wonderful overview of English history

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This is a very interesting overview of English history. At just short of 10 hours it is far too short to cover even a small part of that history in any depth (G. J. Meyer's The Tudors, which covers only the Tudor monarchy, is more than twice the length of this book), but is a very interesting and enjoyable summary of that history. It starts with Caesar's invasion of the British Isles (55 BC) and goes through to the 20th century covering only those topics that the author considers to be relevant to English history. Thus the discussion of Henry VIII's rule, which often takes volumes, is covered in less than 30 minutes and is restricted to the core historical events - the break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries - and largely ignores the more salacious story of his multiple marriages and the ends of his wives.

The book makes no pretense of being a true history of England, but does cover the main events and the lighter view allows the book to concentrate on those things that are meaningful in terms of history. It is true to its title in being a bit irreverent and, in spots, quite funny, and the last chapter of the book, which covers what it calls the "soap opera" of the monarchy, discusses the married life of the English monarchs from William The Conqueror on. As an overview I found the book to be a delight and felt a bit sorry to have finished it. The book is very well narrated and I recommend it as a overview of English history with the warning that if the reader wants a real history rather than an overview he or she should consider other histories. I think that this book works best as either an initial overview to allow the reader to decide which part of English history to concentrate on or a summary for those who are already largely familiar with English history. With that caveat I feel warranted in recommending it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Munich

  • A Novel
  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 724
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 672
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 671

Hugh Legat is a rising star of the British diplomatic service, serving at 10 Downing Street as a private secretary to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Paul von Hartmann is on the staff of the German Foreign Office - and secretly a member of the anti-Hitler resistance. The two men were friends at Oxford in the 1920s, but have not been in contact since. Now, when Hugh flies with Chamberlain from London to Munich, and Hartmann travels on Hitler's train overnight from Berlin, their paths are set on a disastrous collision course.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping

  • By Jean on 01-29-18

Revisionist view of Neville Chamberlain

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This is the fourth Robert Harris novel that I have read. The first was Fatherland, a wonderful book that was part science fiction, part historical novel, part mystery and part thriller, and I decided that this was a very good author and I would read more of his books. The second book was Imperium and that was good enough that I felt vindicated in my initial view, but after that The Ghost Writer made me question my initial views and now Munich, a book I anxiously waited for, has made me wonder exactly what Mr Harris is trying to say here.

Neville Chamberlain was the last of the three British Prime Ministers that led Great Britain and the world to the tragedy that was World War II, and perhaps was not the most culpable of the three, but he is portrayed in this book as a realist who understands that Great Britain is not prepared to fight a war and thus does what he can to delay the war until Great Britain has re-armed. The problem with this view is history itself since Chamberlain was Chancellor of the Exchequer when Baldwin was Prime Minister and it was Chamberlain who prevented the UK from spending the necessary money on defense and thus being ready for any war. Thus to present him as a realist who is trying to deal with a situation he found himself in ignores the fact that he was largely responsible for those decisions and continually ignored warnings from true realists like Churchill and Eden that Hitler was arming and getting ready for war.

The writing itself is, as usual, very good and Mr Harris has woven history into a story concerning two friends, one British and one German, who find themselves trying to find a way to prevent war when dealing with a government bent on conquest, but the story of these two friends lacks the depth of the story in Fatherland and the two people involved never really feel like real characters. There are some surprises along the way, but they too do not feel real and this book comes across as a poor mirror of Mr Harris' previous books.

The best I can say about this book is that the narration is very good and lends suspense to the tale, but the tale itself would be better if it did not contradict history so much. World War II cost the lives of 50 million people and those responsible should not be white-washed.

  • The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789

  • By: Edward Larson
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 193
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 169
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 167

Although Washington is often overlooked in most accounts of the period, this masterful new history from Pulitzer Prize winner Edward J. Larson brilliantly uncovers Washington's vital role in shaping the Convention - and shows how it was only with Washington’s support and his willingness to serve as President that the states were brought together and ratified the Constitution, thereby saving the country.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A readable history

  • By Jean on 10-21-14

US Constitutional Convention

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-31-18

This book takes a close look at the reasons for and the actions of the US Constitutional Convention that changed the US from a loose confederation of independent states to a more Federal form of government. Those who have read the history of the US after it won its independence from Great Britain will not find much new here, but Mr Larson's writing is fresh and interesting and he spends considerable time discussing the various views on whether or not the US needed to change its form of government, how a consensus was formed and how the various political groups came to the decisions that they did. And, of course, there is the interesting story of how Rhode Island alone did not even bother to send representatives to the convention.

George Washinton is at the center of this book and it is clear that he was the indispensable man of this period. It was only his presence and the knowledge that he would be the first President and the one to establish the traditions of office that convinced many of those present that the change to Federalism was worth taking the chance. There is also the well known story of the need for a Bill of Rights, argued against by Madison and others as being unnecessary, and the story of how it was passed after ratification, this time with the help of Madison at the urging of Jefferson.

The one thing I found odd about this book was the author's contention that George Washington was generally viewed as not being involved in the effort to convene the Constitutional Convention while he was, in fact, very heavily involved with both the effort to convene the convention and the actions of the convention itself. I found this odd because every biography of Washington that I have ever read made a point of his efforts to change the US from the lose confederation it was to a more centralized form of government. No book on Washington I have ever read said that he was only an uninvolved planter in the years when the confederation was failing due to its inability to function as a normal central government, yet the author says that this was the general view.

Still, Edward Larson has written a book well worth reading, even by those who are familiar with the years after the US war of independence and before Washington's swearing in as its first President. The narration is very good and the story worth re-telling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • William Tecumseh Sherman

  • In the Service of My Country: A Life
  • By: James Lee McDonough
  • Narrated by: David Drummond
  • Length: 28 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 602
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 554
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 549

General Sherman's 1864 burning of Atlanta solidified his legacy as a ruthless leader. Yet Sherman proved far more complex than his legendary military tactics reveal. James Lee McDonough offers fresh insight into a man tormented by the fear that history would pass him by, who was plagued by personal debts, and who lived much of his life separated from his family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very Fair and Balanced View of Sherman

  • By IRP on 12-02-16

Excellent biography

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-18-18

William Tecumseh Sherman has always struck me as being the most interesting and complex of those Civil War generals who fought for the Union. Highly intelligent, strong willed and sure of himself, yet not so conceited as to want a high command in the war. Completely apolitical, yet put in a position that would easily have ended up allowing him to gain high political office.

This biography covers all parts of his life thoroughly, but not in such detail as to become boring. Sherman, wanting military glory, was assigned to California during the Mexican war and so missed the opportunity he longed for to gain fame as a soldier. Born into a poor family, but raised by wealthy and influential friends he ended up never making enough money to satisfy his family's needs, yet also never stooped to dishonest or even unethical means to make a living. Constantly in need of money he also remained honest to the core, and in a world that was generally thoroughly corrupt.

While Sherman is mostly known for his generalship during the last years of the Civil War this book does not spend an inordinate time on those campaigns, but does cover all of his fighting before and after being assigned to Grant where his expertise, his ability to train and wield his soldiers and his logistics blossomed and made him one of the most effective generals of either side in the fighting. Yet this biography also covers his early Army career, his work as a banker, his family life, his failures early in the Civil War, the period in which he was considered to have lost his mind and his close friendship with Grant, the fighting during the Indian Wars after the end of the Civil War and his life after he retired.

At more than 28 hours this is a fairly long book, but never so long as to become boring. The narration is not inspired, but is adequate to the task and the writing is so good that it constantly kept my attention and kept me from concurrently reading another book, which I sometimes do when I become even a little bored with a book. With a better narrator this would be a truly outstanding book. As it is, I still recommend it for anyone interested in learning about the Civil War in the West and how the Union ended up winning the war in spite of all of the bad generalship in the East.

In the end the Union found 3 excellent generals - Grant, Sherman and Sheridan - and this book gave me great insight into one of those three.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Last Hope Island

  • Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War
  • By: Lynne Olson
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey, Kimberly Farr
  • Length: 18 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 250
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239

A groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler, from the New York Times best-selling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Riveting, and informative even for students of history

  • By Go Steelers on 10-14-17

The lesser known stories of World War II

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-13-18

I originally made the assumption that this book described events that took place in the UK during World War II. While that is partially true, most of the events in this book took place in Europe and the title Last Hope Island seems to me to be misleading. What we really have are the lesser known tales of the European Theater of World War II involving the Europeans rather than the British. Some samples of the tales might help.

The importance of non-British pilots during the Battle of Britain.
The actions of those Europeans who saved and sheltered RAF pilots over Europe and returned them to Britain.
The importance of intelligence gathered from European resistance members.
The failures of the SOE in The Netherlands and France during World War II.
The importance of the French resistance during the D-Day Landings.
The importance of the Poles in cracking the German Enigma codes
The theft of the heavy water supplies from Norway.

and many other tales mostly involving events that took place outside of Britain and/or largely involved non-British participants. The book is interesting and for those who have not read much on World War II in Europe, many of the stories may be new, but there is not much here that a close reading of World War II will not have already made clear. The main thrust of this book is that the peoples of Europe were not passive observers of World War II, but were, in many cases, active participants, working against the Germans for a British and American victory. That story is not new, but is worth telling over and over again.

The narration is adequate, if not great, and the writing is interesting. I found little new in this book in general, but many of the specifics were new to me and were worth listening to. In particular, the tales of the individuals involved, rather than the events themselves, were well worth listening to and were often moving. The most striking for me was the tale of the complete failure of the British in understanding that their SOE operatives in Amsterdam had been turned by the Germans in spite of all of the evidence pointing that way. The main failing I found with the book was its failure to follow up on what happened after the war to those involved in the events. The British SOE failure is described as almost criminal in nature, with the British not even obeying their own guidelines to insure that the information was being supplied by free agents, but there is no information about whether any of those involved were ever punished and, if not, why not.

I can not strongly recommend this book, but it is worth listening to if the reader is not familiar with much of the history of the European Theater in World War II.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Cleaner

  • John Milton, Book 1
  • By: Mark Dawson
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,136
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,028
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,031

Meet John Milton. He considers himself an artisan. A craftsman. His trade is murder. Milton is the man the government sends after you when everything else has failed. Ruthless. Brilliant. Anonymous. Lethal. You wouldn't pick him out of a crowd but you wouldn't want to be on his list. But now, after ten years, he's had enough - there's blood on his hands and he wants out. Trouble is, this job is not one you can just walk away from. He goes on the run, seeking atonement for his sins by helping the people he meets along the way.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sizzling Beginning: 15 Stars!

  • By Ted on 04-17-17

Not Jack Reacher, but still very, very good

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-24-18

I bought this book not knowing what to expect. The premise sounded interesting but I had never heard of the author and had no idea if buying it was a good idea or not. As it turned out, this was a great book.

The story involves an MI6 assassin who decides he has had enough to killing people and wants to spend some time helping them. It sounds like a bit of a cliche, and it probably is, but the book turned out to be very different from what I would have expected, given the plot. Milton befriends a woman whose life is full of trouble and tries to help her and her son, and most of the book is about the details of those people's lives, the lives of those around them and the gang the boy is tied up in. Milton quietly tries to help, tries to save her son's future and generally plays the part of the good samaritan. As you would expect he ends up having to use his skills as a man of violence to right some of the wrongs, but almost all of the book involves the quiet and desperate lives these people live.

There is so much character development in the story that it is easy for forget that the main character is an assassin. At least one of the reviews I read complained that this was a book about street gangs, and that is partly true, but it is well written, I ended up caring deeply about the people involved and the ending was, if anything, unexpected. Hanging around the edges of the story is Control, Milton's old boss, who is unwilling to allow one of his assets to peacefully retire, especially given the world he has suddenly taken up, and we know there is going to have to be a reckoning there as well.

If you are looking for an action book with a lot of violence you probably need to look elsewhere, but if you want a good story, a look at what life is probably like for some people and the feeling this this book reflects life as it often is, with less than satisfying endings, this may well be your book. I expect to continue to read about John Milton.

The narration is first class with just the right touch and I can not imagine anyone else having done as good a job as David Thorpe.